Love snips for love slaps?

 

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Category: Relationships Date: 11 Dec 97


Somehow we all found ourselves in the little room in between the kitchen and the staircase. The carpenter, the baby-sitter, a male friend and myself. “What you think about the woman who cut the mans thing off ?” asks Cheryl, the baby-sitter as she expertly tumbles the baby around, and fastens the diaper. She folds her privacy around her, like a protective cloak; and has never asked my opinion about anything before. Without waiting for a reply she spits out vindictively “It good for him”. We both laugh, spontaneously, enjoying the moment for some reason. Then she scowls. “They should have freed her.”

 

The carpenter who is cutting wood for the kitchen shelves pauses, his power-saw in mid air. “Oh God we can’t sleep at night because we don’t know if it will be cut off by the morning.” Here he waves the saw in the air “We better build a burglar proof around it to sleep” Cheryl asks curiously “you could build that?” “No”, he replies, equably “You go need a welder for that”, “Well they better lock it and keep the key safe too” says Cheryl  “ Don’t worry I go hide it”.

 

“She better give us seminars from jail” I giggle inanely, and Cheryl joins in “so we could cut it off good”.  The carpenter: “I wonder where she threw it?” Cheryl: “She fed it to the goat” Uproarious laughter again.

 

Then above the carpenters screeching saw my male friend said something which caught all our attention, even the baby spat up her milk.

 

“In Thailand the women throw it to the ducks.” Me: “How do you know.?” Male friend: “Well this surgeon who had just finished joining severed fingers told me that it is so common there that surgeons are very adept at the operation.” The Carpenter :(face lighting up with hope) So maybe Rasheed Mohammed could go to Thailand?” Male friend: “Yes, except a lot of women in villages tend to throw it to the ducks.” The baby-sitter went off happy, and the carpenter went back to his woodwork with renewed vigor.

 

Then my male friend said “Remember the cold war between the Russians and Americans? I think its similar to the war between men and women now. During the cold war the only thing that stopped either side from pressing a button and blowing the world up into pieces is the concept of MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction. At the time lots of protesters said it was a bad thing. When that war was over and after a level of disarmament a new theory came out hat it was possibly it is the only thing that could have kept the peace.”

 

Me:  “Are you saying that it was a good thing? You, a man saying that?”

Male friend: “My gut feeling as a man is that being emasculated is such a basic fear in men -  I can’t think of anything else that would so profoundly threaten men. I think women should use this fear to threaten men.”

 

Me: “But don’t you think that it would just escalate the violence between the sexes, make us more animal, more brutal in our relationships?”

Male friend: “Can it be worse than it is? How many women, and children were killed last year alone? And God knows how many women are being beaten everyday. I think it would be a good thing if women for once spoke to men in their own language. Men are so used to using physical threat to intimidate women, that they would respond to this threat. Ideally it would good if men and women received counseling but this is not an option for many, the cost, the contact, the very idea is alien to so many . If there was a spate of this in Trinidad, then perhaps men would think twice about giving a woman a “love slaps” in case they got a “love snip” in return”

 

Now we were was truly shocked. The carpenter put down his power saw The baby-sitter put down the baby “Love snips” they exclaimed simultaneously, the baby-sitter smiling wildly, the carpenter watching her.

 

“Yes”, my male friend lectured. “Pragmatically speaking, the threat is accessable to every woman. All you need is a kitchen knife.” The carpenter screamed with alarm, the baby-sitter with joy. He paused, then continued “Many women agree it is a morally reprehensible act, and should be punished, but accompanied their statement with this curious tiny inward smile. It was frightening.”

 

Then he turned to the baby-sitter and me and said “You were smiling right now. What were you both thinking?” We looked ashamed of ourselves, such a nice man too.

 

But I was thinking that all the women I talked to about it remember the phrase “love slaps ” with horror. Also that this case had got a lot more attention than the cases of domestic violence do. Many women remember that just recently a judge gave a man as little as three years in jail for rape.

 

I wonder why we only follow the most sensational and irrelevant aspects of American issues. (Cita is suddenly our “local Bobbet” even though she committed the act months before Bobbet did.) and disregard the real precedent set by America which is that Bobbet was freed on the plea of domestic violence. But our women’s groups have been surprisingly quiescent over the issue. I wish men and women could get beyond the bobol of the severed member and use the issue to lobby for tougher laws for men who are violent to women. But the encouraging thing is almost all the men I spoke to thought the “love slaps” were reprehensible and said so.

 

But back to the kitchen knife. I had to be stern with my male friend  “This is anarchy. I don’t think Justice Deyalsingh will approve of this.”

 

He replied: “I’m not saying women should be able to get away with it. They should know that there are certain consequences to cutting it off. Leave it as a criminal act but allow the domestic violence defence. After a while doctors will be good enough or quick enough to reattach the severed member except if our ducks get a taste for it.”

 

Me: “You are being very insensitive about poor snipped Rasheed..”

Male friend: “If he brushes up on his show biz skills he too can be a millionaire, like Bobbet. People in America can’t get enough of Bobbet who stars in Porno films, and then there’s the money from Bobbett buttons and T-shirts, cups and flags. And you feel sorry for him? ”

 

“But its a messy business” I protest.

Male friend: “I see it as an equalization of power, a dirty one, to be replaced by a better means of communication - until this happens, ‘if he slip, you snip’”.

 

The carpenter sets down his power saw. The baby-sitter looks cheerful. (she has been physically abused by all the men in her life). And I hope Rasheed gets a decent patch up.. Now we can be sure that at least one man will think twice before issuing any love slaps because he understands profoundly that slap leads to snip.

 

Afterwards

In the state of Texas chemical castration is an option for rapists. It cuts off sex drive and cuts off the testosterone in your body. Then they are let out on probation.

 

After Operation Mad is over, maybe I can go back to enjoying cooking.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur